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Arraignment: Judge Still Fails To Consider Innoson’s Application Challenging Jurisdiction As Court Adjourns Till May 24th For Arraignment.

Justice Mojisola Dada of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja on Wednesday April 25th 2018 failed again to consider Innoson’s application challenging the court’s jurisdiction to arraign him at the court and still adjourned till May 24th 2018 for possible arraignment of Innoson.

At the last court sitting on Wednesday, March 14th 2018, Innoson through his legal counsel led by Chief George Uwechue SAN challenged the jurisdiction of the Lagos State High Court to hear the suit on the forgery charge against Innoson filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, through a motion, stating that the charge is an abuse of process because a similar charge on the same subject matter is pending at the Federal High Court Lagos division between the same parties in charge no FHC/l/565c/2015.

Justice Dada had in the last hearing said she would no longer entertain further proceedings in the suit involving Innoson until she knows the outcome of the petition against her before the National Judicial Council (NJC).

It will be recalled that Innoson had on Feb 12th 2018, petitioned the National Judicial Council to investigate the circumstance leading to Honorable Mojisola Dada of Lagos State High Court issuing a bench warrant against him and ordering his arrest.

Making his submission before the Judge today, the lead prosecuting counsel to EFCC, ABC Ozioko maintained that despite the petition, the Judge can still go on with the prosecution. Meanwhile Prof J.N. Mbadugha countered the submission of Ozioko stating that they are not aware of any NJC directives that the learned trial Judge will continue with the hearing of the case until the petition against it is determined and that Ozioko Esq. had neither availed the court nor the defence team with any. He also submitted that the issue of jurisdiction should be heard first if the court is to go on with the case. He as well submitted that there is an appeal against the order of bench warrant and a pending motion for stay of its execution and as such the order ought not to be executed. He also informed the court that the parties had filled and exchanged their brief at the Court of Appeal.

Again, Chief G.N. Uwechue, SAN, Counsel to Chief Innocent Chukwuma raised the issue of the Court’s lack of jurisdiction to entertain the case and that he was ready to move that application. However, the learned trial Judge maintained that she will not entertain any application except Chief Innocent Chukwuma is at the dock. Chief Uwechue attempted to address the Court on that point but the Court interrupted him severally. The incessant interruption of the court and its failure to allow Chief Uwechue address the Court led Chief Uwechue to remind the Court that he is a life Bencher, a former Chairman of Body of Benchers and has been in practice for over 50 years; that the Court ought not to engage and stampede him but rather the Court ought to listen to him and where possible record his submission and thereafter give a ruling.

Subsequently, the Court allowed him to address it on the point that the presence of Chief Innocent Chukwuma is not necessary since he is challenging the Court’s jurisdiction. Chief Uwechue, SAN, cited the case of Igbeke v. FRN [2015] 3 NWLR (Pt. 1445) 28 at 49 paragraphs D – H.

However, trouble started when Chief Uwechue, SAN, attempted to read out a portion of the decision of the Appellate Court from the case he cited and the prosecuting counsel A.B.C. Ozioko Esq. took over the control of the court and will not let him read out the decision. Ozioko posited that they are the Federal Republic of Nigeria and as such had taken control of the court and the proceedings. Chief Uwechue, SAN, urged and expected the court to call Ozioko Esq. to order but the Court did not do that but rather started stampeding him and encouraged Ozioko. Given the court’s and Ozioko’s conduct, Chief Uwechue, SAN, said that he has never seen that type of proceedings in his over 50 years of practice and that as a result he would quit legal – practice

Cornel Osigwe
Head of Corporate Communications
Innoson Group.

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